Chapter 1

June 6, 2013

The Lady

Lady Savannah Wrightwaite survived to the age of twenty and two due only to a very smart mind and a very smart mouth, although there was definite dissention as to whether the latter had done her very much good, as it had not done any for those it had been unleashed upon. Pretty, if one liked their women to be dark of hair and eyes and wasn’t at all disturbed by a knowing gleam to the eye or secret smile on full, pink lips. Unfortunately for Savannah, she didn’t often find men who weren’t put off by at least one of those attributes, if not all.

What got Savannah into trouble, though, was unfailingly her abysmal sense of timing.

She was born premature, worrying her parents to near apoplexy, though she coasted through the process just fine and still in a bit of a hurry to inspect her new world.

She developed a terrifying case of fever at the age of seven, going out to the countryside on a perfect, blue day she was sure belied the warnings of naysaying weathermen claiming all but a typhoon would fall upon them. So sure was she that she dallied about her tea set until the air was starting to cool so that her walk to the lake would be pleasant.

By fourteen, she found she had a terrible habit of walking in on her beautiful and well-dowried sisters in the parlor while they were being attended to by suitors. Many a kiss did she interrupt, earning her the dislike of many of the ton’s eligible bachelorhood. While her sisters simpered or threw fits and the not-so-gallant men considered throwing daggers, she would simply remind them that if they’d left the door open, as they were supposed to, she never would have come in. Reminders that closed doors required knocking were equally unheard. After her eldest sister, Sarah, was interrupted and required a special license a few days later, it was deemed by the interested suitors that Savannah was not, perhaps, the plague they once believed. Until they began speaking to her and quickly reassessed their machinations.

At eighteen, during her second season, she happened upon a robbery during a house party at the country estate of the Duchess of Devlinshire. Found wriggling, tied to a chair and blissfully gagged, it was the opinion of the men who found her to leave her in such a state until the authorities deemed the scene safe to enter. The jewels lost were never recovered—a sadness for the Duchess, who rather missed that emerald bracelet from a love lost at Waterloo—but a well remembered party for its lack of argument, excellent food and scandal as to which of the ton might well be a thief. That, it turned out as well, was never discovered either.

By age twenty, Savannah decided that men were utter fools and informed them of such as often as humanly possible. Either they completely ignored her take on politics, spoke at her as if she were a five year old incapable of understanding that retiring for port and cigars was simply a euphemism for escaping the annoying women of the party for good discussion and a damn sight better drink than watery lemonade, or they ignored her as if she could spear them alive with words alone. (Though she never mentioned it to them, she was giving it a ripplingly good attempt.)

If it weren’t for the fact that her parents, who sadly had passed on, leaving Savannah the only unmarried of their two sons and four daughters, bestowing on her quite a lot of money, she was sure she’d be well out of popularity with the ton. Since the size of her dowry—granted upon her marriage and in the hands of solicitors until that hopefully blessed day—left little speculation as to the desperation of her parents, however, she was often buffeted with the attentions of those she’d least like to deal with and virtually no one to step in and save her. But such was her lot and so, when she stepped into the path of trouble (she still claimed no responsibility whatsoever for the terrible maiming of that fortune hunter who so unwisely tried to follow her into the street despite the oncoming carriage), invariably, the hapless fools out for her money came after.

So, of course, it came as no great surprise to anyone that Lady Savannah was the one to find the slain body of Earl of Kenby one spring afternoon in 1815. No great surprise at all….



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